Flavorful Comfort: Cheesy Ranch Ground Beef and Rice Casserole
Embark on a culinary adventure filled with flavor and comfort as we dive into the delightful realm of Cheesy Ranch Ground Beef and Rice Casserole. This hearty dish combines savory ground beef, creamy cheddar soup, and zesty ranch seasoning, all topped with a generous layer of melted cheese. Whether you’re seeking a cozy weeknight dinner or a crowd-pleasing dish for gatherings, this casserole is sure to become a family favorite. Join us as we explore the steps to creating this mouthwatering masterpiece and discover the joy of homemade comfort food.
8 slices bacon, chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup instant rice
10.5 oz condensed cheddar soup
1 1/4 cups milk
1 oz ranch dressing mix
3 cups shredded Mexican or Nacho cheese blend
1 1/4 cups chopped green onions
Cook Bacon: In a large skillet, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet and set aside, leaving the bacon drippings in the pan.
Brown Ground Beef: In the same skillet with the bacon drippings, add the lean ground beef and minced garlic. Cook until the beef is browned and cooked through. Drain any excess grease.
Prepare Rice: Cook the instant rice according to package instructions.
Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked ground beef, cooked rice, condensed cheddar soup, milk, and ranch dressing mix. Stir until well combined.
Add Cheese and Bacon: Fold in 2 cups of shredded cheese and the cooked bacon pieces into the beef and rice mixture.
Transfer to Casserole Dish: Transfer the mixture to a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, spreading it out evenly.
Top with Cheese and Green Onions: Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese and chopped green onions over the top of the casserole.
Bake: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the casserole uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Serve: Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Garnish with additional green onions if desired.
Cook Notes and Variations:
Creamy Variation: For an extra creamy texture, substitute half-and-half or heavy cream for the milk in the recipe.
Vegetable Additions: Add diced bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, or frozen peas to the casserole for added flavor and nutrition.
Spicy Twist: Kick up the heat by adding diced jalapeños or a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes to the casserole mixture.
Keto and Low-Carb Versions:
Keto Option: Replace the instant rice with cauliflower rice for a low-carb alternative. Use a keto-friendly cheddar soup or make your own using chicken broth, heavy cream, and shredded cheddar cheese. Ensure the ranch dressing mix is free of added sugars or make your own using keto-friendly herbs and spices.
Low-Carb Option: Similarly, opt for a low-carb cheese blend and use a reduced-carb ranch dressing mix. Omit the instant rice entirely or substitute with cooked cauliflower rice for a lower-carb version.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Can I use regular rice instead of instant rice? Yes, you can use regular rice, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time and liquid accordingly. Pre-cook the rice before adding it to the casserole mixture.
Can I make this casserole ahead of time? Absolutely! You can assemble the casserole up to a day in advance, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Increase the baking time slightly if baking straight from the refrigerator.
Can I freeze Cheesy Ranch Ground Beef and Rice Casserole? Yes, this casserole freezes well. Allow it to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in the oven.
What can I serve with this casserole? This casserole pairs well with a crisp green salad, steamed vegetables, or garlic bread for a complete meal. You can also top it with sour cream or sliced avocado for added richness.
In conclusion, Cheesy Ranch Ground Beef and Rice Casserole is a flavor-packed dish that’s perfect for satisfying cravings and bringing loved ones together around the dinner table. With its blend of savory beef, creamy cheese, and zesty ranch seasoning, this casserole offers a comforting and indulgent dining experience that’s sure to please even the most discerning palates. Whether enjoyed on a chilly evening or as a crowd-pleasing option for gatherings, this recipe is a guaranteed hit. So gather your ingredients, preheat your oven, and prepare to savor the deliciousness of Cheesy Ranch Ground Beef and Rice Casserole today!